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Larger Flatbed Scanners? 34

Posted by timothy
from the illegal-sizes-are-cheap dept.
An Anonymous Coward writes: "I work for a University department and we're looking to find an affordable flatbed scanner with a scanning area of 11x17". Affordability is critical, and it's surprising how hard it is to find one of these... Some basic models I've found range from $1,000 to $4,000. Can the Slashdot community suggest any scanners? Will they?" I settled on a smaller scanning surface after finding the same thing, but my scanner (an Epson Perfection 1650 Photo) is supported nicely by the excellent Xsane. What scanner advice can you offer, especially when it comes to cross-platform support?
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Larger Flatbed Scanners?

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  • by realgone (147744) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @04:32PM (#3353910)
    ...the $1K+ figure sounds about right for what you've described. Seriously, scanning is one of those times when you really do get what you pay for... especially at larger flatbed sizes, when controlling vibration of the scanning elements becomes more of a problem.

    However, if you're dead-set on going down that low-cost road, your best shot would probably to pick up a few Plustek OpticPro A3-i scanners on clearance somewhere. (Here [scanneroutlet.com] for instance.) The company's not around anymore, so you'll be on your own for support, but at $175.00 per unit, that might be a risk you'd be willing to take.

    I am curious as to what the university so desperately needs to scan at 11x17, though...

    • Maps (Score:2, Informative)

      by Shook (75517)
      My university used to have 11x17 scanners in the Geography department's computer lab. We used them (of course) to scan maps. Even then, it often wasn't big enough. The scanners we used were made by Umax, and they were bought circa 1999. The were probably similar to this [umax.com].
    • What do you mean "The company's not around anymore"?
      http://www.plustek.com/
      • What do you mean "The company's not around anymore"?

        Ugh, my bad. I'd read reports at a few different design sites -- here's one [balloontales.com] -- that the company had tanked and future purchases were going to be at-yer-own-risk (much like buying 3DFX cards; god I loved my Voodoo 5500...).

        Seems like they had a reversal of fortune. =)

  • Overpriced (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Picass0 (147474)

    Holy Price Gouging, Batman!

    A letter size USB flatbed goes for US$90-120 at most stores around me.

    For $3800 you're getting a few extra inches of rubber tractor, glass, and plastic.

    You would think somebody would try to fill this market void with a larger scanner at an affordable price.
    • Re:Overpriced (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cryptor3 (572787)
      Yes, perhaps some of the models are overpriced. However, in some cases you also get what you pay for in better color sensors and truer color management. Take, for example, the color sensors mentioned in a slashdot article [slashdot.org].
    • if you notice most scanners can't even do legal paper anymore. i got my first scanner, in (i think) early 1997, a SCSI Umax for about $200. it was a cconsumer model and could do legal paper. since then i have not seen very many scanners that can do leagal size, let alone something bigger. just for the extra 3 inches i keep the scsi one around. i still need it for scanning artwork for 7" covers. in short, i run an indie punk record label (more of a hobby, not a job). when i say record, i mean we still press records. we lose money all the time, and we don't have $1,000 for an oversized scanner. honestly if i get an oversized one i would want to be able to scan artwork for a 12" jacket anyway. i guess the general public spends most of their time scanning snapshots they took before they got a digital ccamera, so 8.5x11 is bigger than they often need anyway.

      anyway rambling aside, if you notice those $1,000 scanners generally are much higher qulaity than the ones that come in cereal boxes and whatnot.
      picking up an old oversized overstock on ebay would probably be a mess for me, i'm a mac user and still waiting for Umax to support the scanner under OS X.
  • HP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by deggy (195861)
    Love or hate HP I find their more expensive (i.e. SCL [scanner control language] based) scanners are pretty much the best supported under Linux. They are quite open about the SCL specs and usb models are well supported - my 5200C has been working perfectly with Xsane since I got it.
  • by DeadMeat (TM) (233768) on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @04:48PM (#3353999) Homepage
    Epson scanner: $100.
    Epson scanner: $100.
    Roll of duct tape: $2.
    The look on your department head's face: priceless.
  • My solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by limited (17574)
    I've got a Microtek XL6 (i think- too lazy to go check the real name) The scanner has a SCSI interface, 11x17, supposedly 600x1200 dpi and works great for me. I received it as a gift, so I'm not sure of the cost. It's a bit on the noisy side, but thats not an issue considering all my cooling fans. Also, I know it works in Windows using Microtek ScanSuite, not sure about any other platforms.
  • by markwelch (553433) <markwelch@markwelch.com> on Tuesday April 16, 2002 @06:51PM (#3354753) Homepage Journal
    I paid $99 for my Mustek A3 EP scanner (11x17) a couple years ago, at Fry's Electronics. I used to see them frequently on eBay in the $50 to $150 range.

    I believe Fujitsu makes scanners in this size, priced around $1,000 - $1,500 (that may include a sheet feeder), and Kodak makes a very expensive ($23,000) but VERY fast scanner in this size (we had some technical problems with one we had in on evaluation in mid-2000). My consulting client needed to scan about 50,000 11x14 color images, along with about 20,000 poster images (mostly 27x41 movie posters), and ultimately decided to buy a couple of $25,000 52-inch Contex sheet-fed scanners.

    I don't need my A3 EP scanner any more, so perhaps I should post it for sale on eBay. But then I guess I'd need to set it up. It does have a small crack in the glass. Maybe I should just put it out at my condo complex yard sale this Saturday. ;-)

    Hey, Anonymous Coward: if you're in the Bay Area, give me a call, maybe I'll donate it to your insitution. I think it uses one of those pass-through parallel port connections.

    Before you select your solution, you need to determine the actual application before buying anything. How fast does it need to be? (Trust me, manually positioning 50,000 pages on a flatbed scanner is going to take a long, long, long, long, long time.) What resolution, and what kind of color range? How accurate must the color mapping be?

    Finally, note that there are service bureaus that will scan a bunch of documents, sometimes even come to your office and scan them right there, for prices ranging from 50 cents to $2 or more per image (depending on condition, size, color/monochrome, etc). One firm in Vacaville was doing this for government agencies: send in 3 guys with 3 wide-format scanners ($10,000 each) and scan for a few weeks, then deliver the document images on CD-ROM or tape.

    As a university, you might find some alumnus or other supporter who would lend you this kind of equipment for a specific project -- ask around. Check if another department (engineering? public planning?) might have a scanner, or maybe there's even a scanner like this in the basement of the bursar's office.

    • We also have a Mustek A3 EP scanner where I work. We use it pretty often to scan 11x17 prints, and it works well for our needs. Be aware that it does not do very high resolutions, and I have never tested it with any OS other than Win98 (on an old computer we keep in the back).
  • Does anyone else remember the old greyscale logitech handheld scanners? I've often lamented the fact that no one sees fit to make an updated version (HP had a pretty sweet one that didn't even need to be plugged in to work w/ ~ 50 pages worth of memory - but for some reason the discontinued it). A handheld would be perfect for all your odd-sized scan jobs (and books, which is why I want one)
    • good question? the problem i always have with multiple passes in graphics is tiling them together. maybe my photoshop skills are just weak, but if it's for the web i am fine..... trying to do a 300dpi color image that will go to the printer is another issue though. too bad kinkos never seem to have a big flatbed scanner. that would be swell for the occasional use. then again most of the ones around here (Philly) stopped being 24 hours, so late night copier fun has declined.

      the closest thing to those old handhelds i have seen are the "pen" scanners that they sell everywhere (staples even). not the same as what you speak of, and i think they really are only for text. one of my housemates has one and can scan passages of text from a book. it's wireless, and you just sync the pen to the machine. he can take it to the library or a bookstore and basically copy a passage of text, take it home and sync it to a text document or webpage.. he said the text recognition is pretty good, but i never used it. he's a windows user, and i don't think the devices are supported on other platforms, but maybe they are now......
    • That HP one was SWEET! You scanned ran it down the lefthand side of the page, pivoted it at the bottom then ran it up the right hands side. The software automaticly tiled it together and it worked beautifully. It had an infrared port on it so you could beam it straight to a printer to print it out if need be. It worked well with large deed records for a company I used to do consulting for. They went in with a list, scaned what they needed, and walked out without paying a dime for the county's copier.

      The deed books are large, so it would most likely do 11x17 without any problems.

      Honig
  • Epson 1640XL (Score:2, Informative)

    by jub (10089)
    Our production department just got one of these, after much research. A transparency adapter was important for us, and that helped drive the decision, but that alone added $1k to the price (about $3k total).

    It's a very nice scanner though, and includes lots of items you could easily pay a few hundred for alone: Silverfast software, color calibrating software & plates, fast SCSI + Firewire + USB interfaces.

    The preview and scan speed is fantastic (we use it on fast SCSI). We're still nailing down the color on transparencies. The reflective quality is wonderful right out of the box, though it tends to want to 'help' by saturating soft colors.

    I agree with the earlier poster about using a service bureau - if you don't need the large size very often, they can be very cost effective. For us, we scan enough that this should pay for itself in about 3 months (vs using a scanning service)
  • Heck for that price, you could get a pretty nice digital camera. With a little fiddling, you could get a pretty nice scan I'm sure.

    Of course, OCR would be more challenging.
  • We just rented a Minolta digital photocopier (DiALTA Di351f) for our training department. It is a 35ppm copier, with stapling, punching and sorting, a network printer and a scanner that ftp's or emails TIFFs and PDFs. Obviously it is B&W only, but it does a very passable job on text. If you wanted to buy one, they are quite expensive, but when you consider that you are also getting a photocopier, fax and A3 printer in one, it starts to look attractive.
  • I also work for a university and we're also looking for a 11x17 flatbed scanner. We've done some pricing and everything is very expensive (one scanner vendor wanted $9000 for such a device!) and way out of our budget. We're a Windows-only office (goodbye, karma) so if anyone knows an affordable Windows 11x17 flatbed scanner solution, please pass it on.

    Thanks!

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